Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD
I consider the number one use of the Internet for dentists at the present time to be discussion groups or mailing lists. These groups are a forum for sharing thoughts, views and advice. Unlike newsgroups where information is posted on a common "board," contributions here are sent out via e-mail. Everyone who subscribes to this list receives your message, as well as messages from all of the other list subscribers.
Every mailing list has two e-mail addresses with completely different purposes. The List Address is where you send e-mail to contribute to the discussion. The Administrative Address is where you send e-mail to subscribe and unsubscribe. Sometimes it also is where you can get help or customize the way you receive postings from the list. The first message you send in order to join a "list" is to a listserv, majordomo or listproc address. Messages from the "list" are sent back to you either individually or in digest format (where the messages are batched together). After you have subscribed, you often will receive a confirmation message from the administrator of the list. After that, the mail will start arriving. Read your messages for a few weeks to learn the sorts of topics that are discussed and the tone of the list. Then start using the resources of the group.
Now, how you may ask, can these mailing list/discussion groups be useful to a practicing dentist? You have made the decision to buy that new intraoral camera. You have narrowed your choices down to two or three brands. Which one should you buy? Merely send out a posting that poses just that question. You will get opinions from many different dentists from around the world. Some may be using the camera you are interested in buying. The responses may give you information that will help you narrow your decision down to that final choice.
How about that patient who comes in with a very difficult clinical condition, and you would like some opinions of other dentists who have had to handle similar situations? Take a radiograph and/or an intraoral photograph and scan them into your computer as a .jpg or .gif image and send these out as attachments with e-mail and your clinical or diagnostic questions. It is amazing how much help you will find out in cyberspace.
Remember when the American Heart Association came out with its new guidelines and recommendations for antibiotic prophylaxis last summer? I read about this on a mailing list (for Internet Dental Forum) days before I ever heard about it in the media.
A new caries-dissolving gel was released in Sweden recently. I read about this in that same forum days before it ever hit the general media. Our local, state and national dental societies are very good about getting news and information out to us in their journals and publications. The Internet just takes care of this in a much more timely fashion.
I hope by now that your interest level has risen quite a bit. You probably are wondering where can you find such mailing lists. The easiest place to find a large listing of mailing lists is at the Liszt Site: http://www.liszt.com. This mailing list directory had 84,792 listings as of January 15, 1998 (I am sure that this number has grown by the time you read this column). These are general lists that include any subject that may interest you. To illustrate how much is out there in the dental field, I have compiled a list of Dental Mailing Lists to get you started.
To subscribe to any list, send an e-mail message to the Administrative Addresses listed below. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of your message, type (without the brackets): subscribe
I would highly recommend that you access two web sites: Dental Related Internet Resources at www.dentalresources.com/bbs2.html and Highland Resource of Dental Information at www.mindspring.com/~cmcleod/maillist.html in order to find very thorough collections of dental mailing lists. I have listed a few of the more popular lists below:
As you can see, your choices are large and quite varied. Many more lists are available. Subscribe to as many as you feel that you have time to read. Do not get discouraged at the large amount of e-mail you will get in return. You will learn how to skim through it and read only what interests you. You will not be disappointed. There is a lot of knowledge out there over the Internet for your benefit. These discussion group/mailing lists are a simple and easy way to gather a wealth of practical information that can be used in your practices on a daily basis.
See you online!
Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesperson and critical-issue-response-team chairperson for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone, (314) 567-5612; or fax: (314) 567-9047.
Top 10 signs that you`ve overdosed on the Internet
(10) You no longer type with proper capitalization, punctuation or complete sentences.
(9) You double click your television remote control.
(8) You get up at 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom but turn on the computer instead.
(7) You find yourself lying to others about your time online and when they complain that your phone is busy, you claim that it must have been off the hook.
(6) You change your screen name so much that you have to look at your own profile to see who you are.
(5) Your opening line at a party is: "So, what`s your home page?"
(4) Someone tells you a joke at work and you say, "LOL" out loud.
(3) You go up to people you are attracted to "in real life" and ask them for their "gif."
(2) You know more about your e-mail friends` daily routines than you do about your spouse`s.
And the number 1 sign that you have overdosed on the World Wide Web:
(1) You understand the humor in all of this.